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The account given in the Introductory Essay, of the plan and hypothesis I have adopted, makes it unnecessary to detail them in this place.
The poem is divided into sections, allotting two to each of the seven days of the marriage festival', commencing the morning after the celebration; though I must confess myself far from sanguine in the propriety of these divisions, chiefly from not knowing how to dispose of the Sabbath, which must have been one day in the seven, though it is doubtful which should be assigned to it.
In elucidating the poetical imagery I have made considerable use of the eastern writers, availing myself of the learned researches of Sir W. JONES, and others.
In the latter part of the work I have also adopted some ideas, and controverted others, of the EDITOR of CALMET, whose translation appeared before several of my last sheets were printed off.
Two things in this undertaking may seem to require apology, the boldness of the attempt, and the length of time it has been in hand : but these circumstances counterpoise each other;
See page 65.
and the former will be a sufficient excuse for the latter, especially to those acquainted with the author's other avocations. The work is at length before the public with all its imperfections. If the reader will throw a mantle of candour over them, I hope he will find many things to assist his enquiries, and to lead his contemplations to that object which alone claims unqualified admiration—'THE ALTOGETHER LOVELY.'
ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE,
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE AND ALLEGORY:
AND OF THE
HEBREW POETRY AND MUSIC.
ANY learned men have complained of the
poverty of the Hebrew language, occasioned by the paucity of its primitive words, or roots : from this, however, arises the frequent use of figurative terms, one of the chief beauties of language, and an essential (perhaps the most essential) ingredient of poetic composition.The discussion of this subject, therefore, naturally carries us back to the origin of language, and of metaphorical expression.
OF THE ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE, &c.,
THE origin of language is a problem which has exercised the greatest wits and the ablest scholars; and, perhaps, no one has solved it better than our justly celebrated Milton, who makes the father of mankind thus express
himself, on his first sensation of existence :
• To speak I try'd, and forthwith spake,
This supposes that Adam received the rudiments of language at the same time with his perceptions and understanding, and from the same hand. I say. the rudiments of language; because I conceive our first parent was not formed for idleness, but for exertion and improvement: to cultivate, not only his garden, but his
Par. Lost, Book viii. 2 The learned Dr. Leland agrees perfectly with this idea : • From the account given by Moses of the primeval state of man, it
appears that he was not left to acquire ideas in the ordinary way, which would have been too tedious and slow as he was circumstanced ; but was at once furnished with the knowledge which was then necessary for him. He was immediately endued with the gift of language, which necessarily supposes, that he was furnished with a stock of ideas, a specimen of which he
gave in giving names to the inferior ani. mals, which were brought before him, for that purpose.'– Advan. and Necess. of the Christian Revelation, vol. II. b. ii.